We all know that nursing isn’t easy. Unfortunately, however, they didn’t tell us all the reasons why during our years in nursing school. In case you’re wondering about the harsh reality of being a nurse, here are the things I wish I knew before I even become one.
1. You see more deaths than you want
Although we can try as hard as we can to save all of our patients, death is still inevitable for some of them. And no matter how many deaths I encounter in my shift or the entire length of my career, I don’t think I’ll ever be desensitized to it. In fact, it’s still unnerving every time it happens.
2. Body aches are common
Nurses work long hours. Walking around, turning patients and standing for the entire shift are only some of the things you have to prepare yourself for when you become a nurse. Nursing is not for the weak. You have to learn proper body mechanics and basic stretching routines if you want to save yourself from the handful of body aches you’ll get after every shift.
3. You’re not just a nurse
You’ll be shocked by how many roles you’ll need to fill in during your shift. Aside from taking care of patients medically, you can also be asked to help them out to bed to use the bathroom or change the channel on their TV. If your hospital is short-staffed, you may even be required to take over other roles to ensure the continuity of your patient’s care.
4. There are a lot of things you have to remember
On top of memorizing your patients’ names and room numbers, you also have to be aware of their medications, lab results, and vital signs. Since doctors can check on their patients anytime, make sure you are prepared. If you know you can’t rely on your memory all the time, you should have a good system that can help you remember these data. You can list them down on a piece of paper which you can quickly pull out before answering their calls or paging them.
5. You need to know how to have a good laugh
Nurses are not known for having the best sense of humor. As a matter of fact, they can often look odd for having fun at almost anything. With everything you have to get through each shift, you need to have a good coping mechanism. Isn’t having a good laugh a good way to de-stress?
6. You’ll feel tired, underpaid and overwhelmed
If you’re only after the salary, nursing might not work for you.
7. Your nursing career doesn’t end when you leave the hospital
For most people, a nurse is someone who works with patients inside the hospital. While that is true, you can also pursue a nursing career in a different environment. If you find it hard to adjust to a hospital setting, it doesn’t readily mean that you should leave the profession and take on a new career. You can try working as a nurse in schools, communities, and even research facilities.
8. It’s alright to not know everything
Attending nursing school for four years isn’t a complete guarantee that you’re thoroughly prepared for the job. Even veteran nurses still encounter cases and medications that are new to their ears. If you don’t know something, make it a habit of asking. Admitting that you don’t know something doesn’t make you a horrible nurse.
9. It’s not just blood
One of my greatest concerns, when I was still in nursing school, was blood. Unfortunately, however, nursing is more than just getting exposed to blood or having blood stains on your uniform during a busy shift. You can get peed or sprayed vomit by your patient. There’s the unfriendly smell of open wounds and stools, too. While most of these things can make a lot of people cringe, you need to have a tough stomach if you want to be a nurse.
10. It requires passion
Nursing is one of the most underappreciated jobs. You can miss holidays and important family events. You can spend 12 hours walking around while holding your bladder. You may even meet a lot of difficult people at work. If you don’t have the passion for the job, it’s easy to feel burdened about how much tasks you need to finish during your shift. In contrast, when you know you love what you’re doing, it’s easy to feel enthusiastic about getting back to work day after day despite the negative things you can experience.
What are the things you wish you knew before working as a nurse? Did it make any difference about how you feel about the job?